The attraction of Running:
Admittedly and obviously I'm completely in love with running (as well as George).
After accumulating years of running for wins, running for fun and running to keep my body incredibly fit and toned; I was running 100's km/week in training but something began to be amiss from the meaning.
No longer could a podium finish at a city marathon or a finishers t-shirt at a fun run either quench my thirst for achievement nor fulfill a sense of purpose. I wanted to go for something big. I needed a new goal.
Reality of not making an Olympic or even a Commonwealth Games qualifier in my chosen sport of Marathon had long since sunk in.
On my Sunday long runs (weekly pacing 35km alone through level quiet pine forests near home) I began to dream big. I dreamed of a run that would be ongoing and become my life for months. I would go out for my run one day and simply not have to turn around to come back. Every day would be a new setting and new scenery. That was every runners dream right!?
I would run right the way around Australia!
This dream reignited my passion to run.
People asked me"why", I was only asking "when":
I must have been born with 100% optimism. I was born a do-er, a can-do-er and freakishly curious. Don't want to die not knowing right?
I had been running all my life. To me, a day without running was a day wasted. So why not finally make all these runs count. If that would gain public interest, I could use that to help people, by sharing my knowledge, experiences and years of research. It would be a way to give back in life.
It was Jan 2010. I looked at my children. I was newly single. New to narrowly escaping months of extreme domestic physical and psychological violence, with our lives in tact.
Little Sky was almost 4 and Austin was 1. We had one last full year of freedom before Sky started school. It was now or never. There was no-one else to consider now and no-one could hold us back.
Instead of feeling I had a lot to run from, I knew the time spent running would be a valuable method of processing what had just happened to my life and focusing on new life goals for when we, the 3 of us, returned home.
The run was for me, to process events and let them go. To forgive the inhumane treatment as a girlfriend I'd endured on and off for 5 years and focus on the future.
The run ended up being just what I needed. Long lonely hours of reflection, interspersed with welcome distractions of sharing knowledge & encouragement to others who could benefit from it, taking what they needed from my talks.
The meaning of running for me had been reborn. No longer was it a platform for self indulgent glory; it was now a platform to humbly & helpfully spread my years of accumulated knowledge on the importance of setting goals and eating for nourishment I had gained from being an elite athlete and researching diet in detail.
During the run they were "free talks". I would liaise with a school at a town up ahead en route and set a suitable time to drop in and share my adventure with them. These days I am lucky enough to acquire a reasonable fee for my time.
During my Primary and High School visits, talk-topics included how to reduce risks of cancer through smarter diet choices, balancing the diet, constructing a healthy balanced lifestyle, how to best choose food for optimal human health and many more wholesome topics for the youth of Australia including personal goal setting, drug avoidance, to never give up and caring for the environment .
After hunting online for records to do with Running Around Australia I quickly found that only men's records were set. Wow, even more exiting! I would be embarking on a world first - to become the first woman to run around Australia.
Pat Farmer, the Australian record holder at the time for the run around Australia gave me invaluable information on how to prepare vehicles and crew for my run. How to prepare for the long distances between towns and how to involve the press and sponsors.
To follow was months of training 100's of km. Purchasing vehicles, camping equipment, contacting possible sponsors and getting crews together. My friend Dick from Picton secured Scania and Beaurepaires. I was grateful my friend Margaret of "The Runners Shop" on the Central Coast secured Mizuno on my behalf. Xantor from Energo wired up the solar panels on the bus to make us autonomous over the long stretches of distance between towns.
As exiting as it was, I was determined to be properly prepared. I practiced running early mornings with the support car driver also practicing driving behind. I'm glad we did, there is more to it than you would think. The safest distance to drive behind that allows headlights to be effective but without making me feel like I'm about to be run over, how to locate safe places to pull over without getting stuck in mud or sand!, being considerate to other road users, using the flashing light, how to communicate, hand signals between runner and driver to understand etc etc... It was quite the learning curve!
I am proud to say, after beginning countless races and training sessions; I have always finished what I started.